Neal scored eight points in the opening 3 minutes of the final quarter to extend San Antonio's lead to 88-75.
"We were right there going into the fourth," Ridnour said. "On the road, that's where you want to be — within striking distance. We just went rough a little lull and Neal got hot there."
Popovich was ejected with 7:22 remaining in the game following a double technical for arguing a foul called against Splitter on Barea. The ejection sparked an 11-0 run for the Spurs, including a dunk and two reverse layups by Splitter.
The ejection didn't seem to linger with Popovich. When asked about the play of Patty Mills, who was 2 for 8 in scoring five points, the Spurs coach couldn't help but smile.
"He was on fire," Popovich said, biting his lip and shaking his head in a futile attempt not to smile. "Patty is always an energetic guy; he does a great job busting his butt. He just couldn't find the rim tonight, well, he found the rim; he couldn't find the net."
Popovich was able to limit his starter's minutes early in the second quarter, to the point Duncan playfully walked to the scorer's table to check in. Popovich grabbed him by the front of his warm-up shirt and walked the former MVP back to the bench. The frivolity lasted less than a minute, as Duncan re-entered the game after back-to-back steals by Minnesota cut San Antonio's lead to 35-32.
NOTES: The Spurs are 16-2 at home, for the league's best winning percentage at .889. Their victory total is tied for third with Miami (16-3) behind Oklahoma City (18-3) and the Los Angeles Clippers (18-4). ... Minnesota F Kevin Love (fractured hand), G Brandon Roy (knee), G Chase Budinger (knee) and Malcolm Lee (knee) did not play. ... San Antonio has had 12 different starters this season, the most of any NBA team. Ginobili is the only active player on the Spurs roster who has not started a game this season. Cory Joseph and James Anderson have not started, but both have primarily played in the D-Leaague this season. ... Ridnour, Cunningham and Alexey Shved have played every game for the Timberwolves this season. ... The Spurs' longest home winning streak is 22 games, which they set from Dec. 3, 2010 to March 4, 2011.